While NBA players will not be fined for wearing now-ubiquitous #ICantBreathe Protest T-Shirts to games instead of their warm-up uniforms, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said he would like for them to adhere to “on-court attire rules.”
“I respect [Chicago Bulls] Derrick Rose (pictured) and all of our players for voicing their personal views on important issues but my preference would be for players to abide by our on-court attire rules,” Silver said. Players are required to wear attire from Adidas, the league’s official apparel provider. But the players will not be fined.
A video recording of Eric Garner’s July arrest in Staten Island, N.Y., showed him gasping, “I can’t breathe” after a police officer placed him in a chokehold when he was being arrested for selling loose, untaxed cigarettes. Thousands have protested a grand jury decision not to indict the officer since the announcement a week ago.
Rose wore one of the shirts before a game Saturday and LeBron James said Sunday he wanted one. He received it from Brooklyn Nets guard Jarrett Jack, who provided them to players on both teams.
Entertainer Jay-Z, a former part-owner of the Nets who still attends some games, also gave some of the shirts to the team. Kevin Garnett and Deron Williams were among four Nets wearing the shirts in support of Garner’s family.
James, Kyrie Irving and multiple Brooklyn players wore the shirts while warming up for Monday night’s game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Nets.
“It was a message to the family. That I’m sorry for their loss, sorry to his wife. That’s what it’s about,” James said after the Cavaliers’ 110-88 victory. “I think everybody else gets caught up in everything else besides who’s really feeling it, and that’s the family. That’s what it’s about.”
James said he and Irving did not discuss their plans to wear the jerseys beforehand. Irving went to warm up first, and at that point James was still saying it was only a “possibility” that he would be wearing it.
“We’re our own men, and we didn’t talk about it,” James said. “When we seen each other wearing the shirts, we looked at each other and just gave the nod. It goes from there.”
The statement from the players came Monday before a game that was attended by Britain’s Prince William and his wife, Kate, as well as Silver.
A few NFL players had the slogan written on different items of gear and shirts during pregame warmups before games on Sunday, including St. Louis Rams guard Davin Joseph, Detroit Lions running back Reggie Bush and Cleveland Browns cornerback Johnson Bademosi.